Sentinel FAQs

What Is Title Insurance?

A Title Insurance Policy is a contract that protects a consumer against losses arising through defects in the title to the real estate. The Title Insurance Company agrees to provide the owner and mortgage holder a legal defense of the title if a claim arises.

Do I Need Title Insurance?

Purchasing real estate is probably the biggest investment you will ever make. With that in mind, you will probably want to insure it not only to protect it from fire and theft but also from title defects that may allow someone else to hold a claim to your property.

Must I buy title insurance when closing a real estate transaction?

There is no requirement to buy title insurance; but, realistically, most mortgage companies, banks and credit unions will require title insurance to protect their interest in the property. However, it is recommended that you do purchase title insurance unless you have fully investigated the condition of title and are willing to accept the property with the liens and restrictions shown.

What is a closing date?

This is the date on which you complete the purchase or sale of a property. The closing date is agreed upon in the purchase contract. A closing begins when the agreement is signed and ends when the property changes owners.

What does the closing involve?

In a closing, title to real estate is transferred by deed. All necessary documents are prepared and disbursement of money is made for the purchase or finance of real estate and related costs. The settlement agent causes the deed or deed of trust to be recorded in the public record.

How long does a closing take?

The process usually takes four to eight weeks.

What does a closing agent do?

The person in charge of the closing must be independent, as he or she represents all sides of the transaction and makes sure that all the terms of the contract are met. The escrow or closing agent's general responsibilities include:

• Holding financial deposits in trust

• Writing detailed closing instructions based on the purchase agreement

• Gathering all legal documents related to the transaction

• Ordering a title examination or preliminary report on the property

• Clearing all title issues discovered during the search

• Securing title insurance

• Collecting documents from the buyer's lender

• Making sure all terms and conditions of the purchase contract are met

• Recording the deed and other necessary documents

• Ensuring that the process moves along smoothly and that the transaction closes on time

What are common closing costs?

If you are taking a loan to finance your purchase, here are some common closing cost expenses:

• A closing fee for the escrow or closing agent

• Preparation of legal paperwork

• Appraisal review fee

• Credit report fee

• Underwriting fee

• Mortgage insurance

• Survey fee

• Pest inspection fee

• Notary fee for authenticating signatures on legal documents

• Homeowner's insurance

• Courier and overnight delivery fees

• Tax service fee

• Recording and transfer fees

Fees for these services vary. Some banks and other lenders use their own closing agents. Some title companies offer special rates that may include escrow services, home warranty and title insurance at a "bundled" rate, so it pays to shop around.

Who pays escrow fees in my state?

Generally, the buyer pays most of the closing fees. In some states, the buyer and seller share the costs. In others, the seller is responsible for the closing fees.

The party that pays the closing expenses is negotiable. A motivated buyer or seller may agree to pay all escrow closing fees as a way to finalize the deal.

What do I need to bring to a closing?

For a purchase settlement, you will need to bring certified funds, your drivers license, copy of homeowners insurance policy (and receipt, if paid), and the original termite report. For a refinance, you will need to bring certified funds (if funds are required to close), your drivers license, and a copy of your owners title insurance if you are requesting a reissue rate.

What happens at the actual closing?

The closing officer will explain all documents to you and answer any questions you have. You will then sign the necessary papers and the closing officer will notarize them.

What happens after the closing?

The records will be searched again and then the new documents will be recorded to change title. Disbursement happens after recording, so if closing happens in the afternoon, recording might happen the next morning.

What happens to the documents I sign at closing?

First, the lender’s documents are all put in order and returned to the lender for review. The payoff of the existing mortgage(s) are sent out as soon as possible. Next, the deed and mortgage are taken to the courthouse to be recorded, usually within twenty-four (24) hours of closing the transaction. When a document is recorded the Clerk of the Circuit Court makes a copy of the original document and enters it into the permanent record. Each page of every document is recorded into a book with a page number. This book and page number are stamped on the original document before copying and are used to file and track that document.

After the documents are recorded they are usually sent back to the title company. The title company then updates the title work again to ensure nothing else was recorded during the closing period, to check the recording numbers on the document, and to check that the previous satisfaction of mortgage has occurred.